The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
May 1998 Vol. 1 Issue 3
The kingly science and the kingly mystery is devotion to and study of the light which comes from within. -- W. Q. Judge
Katherine Tingley was head of The Theosophical Society from 1896 until her death in 1929. A true altruist, she spent her life working as a humanitarian, social activist, and reformer. Born Catharine Wescott in 1847 in Newbury, Massachusetts, her experiences as a young girl with the tragedy and violence of the Civil War, as well as the poverty and misery of immigrant workers, moved her deeply, and in the years to come she would devote her life to working for world peace and the relief of suffering. In the early 1890s she founded numerous philanthropic organizations to help prisoners and destitute women and families. But the more she worked with the unfortunate, the more frustrated she became because she could help so few of the mass of suffering humanity. What she desired was to find and eradicate the causes of the problems.
She was introduced to theosophy by William Quan Judge in 1893, and in the theosophical teachings she found answers to many of her questions. She championed the theosophical ideas that every person has within him the divine spark, that we are responsible for our actions, and that we can redeem ourselves, no matter how badly we have erred. Also, karma and reincarnation helped explain why there is so much suffering in the world, an explanation she had long been seeking. The belief that we each live multiple lives, and that whatever we sow on this earth, good and bad, we must also reap, places the responsibility of our actions, and thus our redemption, on our own shoulders. It teaches us that we have the power to control our own destiny and that we are not at the mercy of any arbitrary god.
Katherine Tingley continued her relief work on a world scale after assuming leadership of The Theosophical Society upon Judge's death in 1896. One of her main goals was to spread the light of theosophy more widely. In 1900, she moved the Society's headquarters to Point Loma, California, near San Diego, where she founded the Raja-Yoga School, and later, in 1919, Theosophical University.
View of Point Loma Headquarters from entrance gate
She also founded schools in Cuba, Britain, and Sweden. She wrote and lectured extensively in the United States and abroad, crusading for world peace and the proper upbringing of children. Her books, such as Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic and The Gods Await, emphasize that man is divine, and that he must learn to strengthen the higher part of himself and discipline his lower, personal self. She did much humanitarian work with prisoners as well, focusing on the cause and cure of crime. She strove to teach criminals that they were essentially divine and could bring about their own rehabilitation through their own efforts and a earnest desire to change.
Katherine Tingley's life and work still provide inspiration to us today, almost 70 years after her death.
This month our subject is "What Is the Purpose of Life?" We will be discussing such questions as: Is there meaning in life? How can we each discover the purpose in and behind our own life? What are the roles of chance, fate, and free will? Why do we suffer? What is the role of humanity in the context of the earth and its other lives?
Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
June 11: "Have There Been Lost Civilizations?"
July 9: "How Can We Find Truth?"
August: "Why Are There So Many Religions?"
On May 30 - 31, 1998, the American Section of The Theosophical Society is sponsoring a conference in Pasadena, California, on theosophy and modern science. There is no admission charge and all are welcome. Topics include: "The Quest for Human Origins," "Theosophy and Medicine," "The Secret Doctrine and the Big Bang," and "Worlds within Worlds." To find out more about this event, visit the American Section website or contact the National Secretary, Alan Donant at PO Box 6548, Altadena, CA 91003-6548 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a great discovery which each must make for himself: that human nature is dual and that a battle is ever going on between the higher self and the lower, the angel and the demon in man. When the higher, immortal part dominates, there is knowledge and there is peace. When the lower rules, all the dark despairing elements of human life rush in upon the unguarded soul.
Man, in his inner nature, is a being with a divine inheritance and immeasurable possibilities of evolution.
This strange duality! And how do human weaknesses creep in? First of all we turn the key of selfishness in some closed door of the nature; then, before we know it, the door is open and in walks a stranger, an obsessive, potent force of evil, often with power enough to destroy the very being. No lens has as yet been made that can show you what this is, but it nevertheless exists. And the door of selfish desire once ajar, the incoming stranger is welcomed, entertained, permitted to enjoy the bounty of the intellectual life, permitted to sit in the very chamber of man's being, where only higher and splendid things should be.
This door may open in any of us, but know that it can never be shut, and kept shut, until our feet are planted on the eternal rock of knowledge and of trust, until we have the power -- and absolutely know that we have it -- to shut out the faintest tinge or touch or thought or vibration of anything that would mar the purity of that inner realm of mind that the soul works in and through.
In the name of justice and of karma I say: Woe be unto those who willfully entertain such visitors as these! Woe be unto those who dare to desecrate their own mind or touch the mind of another with anything but the loftiest, the noblest, the purest and the best!
Once the duality of human nature is admitted by science, our asylums will become great schools of study from which a deeper understanding and a larger compassion shall come. For without a study of the self in its duality, mental disorders cannot be understood.
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How wonderfully farseeing was that old teacher of bygone days who left us this injunction: MAN, KNOW THYSELF!
That is the key to the whole situation. Let man take the first step boldly in honest self-examination, with a daring that stops before nothing that may impede his path, and he will find very soon that he has the key to wisdom and to the power which redeems. Discovered through his own efforts, by the law of self-directed evolution, this key will open before him the chambers of the self.
For when a man has the courage to analyze himself -- his purposes, his motives, his very life; when he dares to compare the wrong things in his life with the right ones, in the spirit of a love for humanity sufficient to make him willing to lay down his life for it if need be, he will find the secret of living. This is what I mean when I say that we are ever being challenged -- challenged by the better side of our natures to stand face to face with ourselves, to reach out in recognition to the divinity within. For this divinity, this knower, this spiritual companion, is ever pleading to be listened to, ever waiting to be recognized, ever ready to help and serve that it may bring the whole nature of man to its standard of godlike perfection.
These two forces -- the physical dominated by the spiritual, the mind illuminated by treasures of truth and inspiration from the higher self -- these two, working together, will bring about results that are unbelievable. Nor will it take all eternity to bring about these things. The very atoms of our body can be touched by the fire of divine life and brought into harmony with the mind and soul, controlled as the master musician controls his instrument by the higher self.
For life is light and light is life, and the Christos-spirit is in everything in degree. Could we sit at the feet of the Law like little children could we free our minds from misconceptions and learn from nature and listen to the Christos-voice within, what revelations would come to us! We should then be able to say: this is immortal and that is mortal; this belongs to the animal nature of man, and that to the spiritual. The power to do this is the power that we need, arousing us from the dead, so to speak, and bringing to us light and illumination.
-- From Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic
Current NW View